Submitting Resumes Online – Automated Tracking Software Changing the Game

March 9th, 2010 by Amelia

Last week we took a look at the various resume types and gave a few pointers as to the theory behind each format. This week we take a second step and look at the creation of a resume that will be submitted online via a job board or company web site.

It is extremely important for job applicants to realize that the same technology that allows you to create several different resumes and forward them at the click of a mouse is also being employed on the other end by large businesses. Today, resumes and applications submitted online generally go automatically into a database for storage and analysis.

iStock_000008959134XSmallWhat may be a surprise to readers is that those files are often scanned first by sophisticated software before ever being seen by a person at the human resource office. In fact, a resume submitted online will most likely need to pass specific muster or it will never touch human hands.

Applicant Tracking Software

With companies receiving hundreds of resumes (in some instances, thousands) for every job opening, recruiters today utilize technology to help them manage the volume of materials submitted. Applicant tracking software systems (ATS) are used to help recruiters in all facets of the process, from storing the applicant files to recording all communications that take place between the recruiter and an applicant.

Recruiters can handle the first step in the screening process by programming the software to review the submitted resumes according to key criteria. To do so, the recruiter will take some key words or words from the job advertisement or from the job description and let the software package scan the resumes for this specific language.

The ATS software will select from the database only those resumes containing the key words or phrases. Once the applicant pool is reduced, the recruiter may take the new list and run a second scan, a third, or any number for that matter, using another set of words or phrases each time.

Essentially, the recruiter, without ever laying eyes on the resumes directly, utilizes technology to weed them down to a manageable number that he or she can then review individually.

The Need for Targeted, Properly Formatted Resumes

First, when submitting online, you should avoid using the functional resume format and instead create a specific targeted resume that is adjusted for each opening. Most importantly, the resume must be loaded with the aforementioned key words and phrases.

To be sure you have included those words, review the job advertisement language carefully for the skills and expectations noted. Better yet, get a copy of the job description for the position and review it as well. To be sure you hit all corners, use both the title and the abbreviation at some points just in case – for a human resources opening you want to use the phrase human resources as well as the accepted abbreviation, HR.

iStock_000007155263XSmallSecond, you should use global and generic job titles and descriptors and avoid using unique phrases or titles that a prior employer might have used. The suggestion is to use a simple phrase such as sales professional to describe any position held that involves sales (as opposed to inside sales, outsides sales, manufacturer’s representative, direct consumer sales, etc.).

Lastly, it seems that most ATS software packages cannot scan power point or PDF formats. Others also struggle with the use of fancy formatting.

Applicants should use traditional text formats such as Microsoft Word and minimize the use of text highlighting such as the use of italics, underlining or bolding. Though those elements might make the hard copy more visually enticing, they can only confuse the automated system.

Online Submissions

So remember, when submitting a resume online to a large job board or company you may well be screened multiple times by a computer software package. While such a concept clearly does not allow a company to personalize the process and may well weed out some great people in the initial phases, when a recruiter is receiving hundreds if not thousands of resumes for each opening, personalizing the process is out of the question to begin with.

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